Introducing: Morrison House
‘Morrison House’ are a self-proclaimed ‘Crack –Rock’ band from the Essex area. They embrace the Beatnik culture and their music shows heavy-influences from the nineteen-sixties and seventies such as ‘the Velvet Underground’, ‘The Fugs’, and ‘Bob Dylan’, but all of their music is their own. In the past they were known as ‘The Tea Heads’, who, as a band started by sixteen-year-olds made music to get messed up to. Moving away from this image, I caught up with George (Vocals and Guitar), Spike (Vocals and Guitar), Nicky (Drums), and Jack (Bass) to discuss the process of writing and releasing music.
So Morrison House, for people who have yet to have a listen to your music, how would you describe your style?
George: Crack rock!
Spike: Yeah, crack rock is a good one.
George: A mix of all of your favourite genres of rock, but it’s cooked and then smoked. My nan said it was lullabies for Junkies.
Lullabies for Junkies- I like that. You work so well together and all of your sounds seem so blended and refined - despite being ‘crack rock’- how do you work together to create this?
Spike: we’ve all been influenced from each other’s sounds, I’ve been heavily influenced by my parents and their music tastes, but I’ve definitely learned lots from Nick and George, collectively- I remember spending hours just sat away, nerding in Nick’s room and discovering all different bands, really.
Jack: I’ve learned loads; I couldn’t even play the bass a few years ago. I just thought, alright, I’ll give it a go.
George: Yeah, Nick didn’t even know how to play the drums. We would watch the Garden and the lemon twigs and they’d really make us think, yeah, we should do that, we should start a band. I bought a drum kit from the rest of the money I had with this job, and I bought it for Nick, and he had to lend me £20. So I taught Nick how to play the drums.
I mean you must’ve been, what, sixteen George? So I’m assuming you’re not a music teacher at this point – how exactly did you teach him...
George: sort of just – clapping in time? We looked a bit like the stooges. But he’s definitely learnt more by himself, because, I don’t know how to play the drums.
You’re all nineteen now, right? How do you feel Morrison House is going to work post-college life?
Spike: Ah, it’s going to be so much better. College is just fucking around, doing nothing. Me and nick go to class every day, but we haven’t really produced anything from it-
Jack: You go to class every day?
Spike: well, when we do show up, we sit there and don’t really do anything. The only time we ever get anything productive done is when we're not at college.
Jack: We’re all moving to London together so we’ll definitely have more freedom to get music out there.
So are you all going to the same university then? What’s the plan for post-isolation Morrison House?
Spike: I mean we were, but George didn’t get into Goldsmiths so now we are all going to BIM in London.
George: I’m going on record to say that Goldsmiths is full of fascists and horrible people, and that woman Kathy on the phone was a right wanker. And Nick will be sleeping on the sofa part-time.
Jack: And I’ll be doing producing, while Spike and George are doing song-writing.
I want to talk more about your music. You can really hear the influence of soul; there’s a richness to a lot of the lyrics that is impressive for such a young band. How do these kind of lyrics and songs come to fruition?
George: Well, I really don’t like wasting lines. It’s difficult enough to write something beautiful, because of the restrictions of melody, but for me, it’s just about not line wasting. I really don’t like line wasting. Our song ‘Talking,’ definitely shows this. We’re doing exactly what Morrison House want to with this song: Nick’s really going for it with the drums, Spike’s playing the cords with a coin – and Jack has this really thick bassline that just fills it all out.
Spike: It slaps you round the face. It’s definitely a mind fuck, hurts your brain quite a lot, but, you know, in a good way.
George: And it’s about talking, you know, a conversation, or, not being able to have a conversation.
And what’s the normal process for song writing?
Spike: It usually stems from a single idea and we all go away and write our own lyrics. Then when we come together we get the guitar, the lyrics and morph it into something beautiful- or- not so beautiful I guess, but at least it is our own.
George: It’s definitely something between beautiful, and, well, ugly.
‘Wide Concern’ is a song that shows that, doesn’t it? It’s such a strong song, and yet, the lyrics are talking about something ugly I guess, do you want to tell us more about that?
George: Well yeah, you’re right. I don’t like writing songs without talking about something with cause. It’s about in the sixties, how in New York they were closing down lots of the Gay night life in order to police the LBTQ+ culture. At the time, the newspaper headline called this a ‘wide concern’, complaining about maintenence problems that weren’t really there as a means of closing all these bars. So yeah, it’s definitely got ugly undertones to this song.
A lot of your music does seem to have a sixties influence, considering some of you were born in 2000, why is it that music from this era feels so right?
Spike: Err, music now is just dogwank.
George: There’s nothing good on telly anymore.
Jack: Everything now seems to be the same to me.
Spike: The problem is, so much modern music is created electronically now. Like, when we do gigs, we fuck up songs sometimes, but it can sound good. Modern technology and electronics means that, sometimes, that real human element in music is gone. You can tell when something has been quantised.
George: There’s no element of surprise, is there? With us, we might not even make it to the gig you know? And you get that kind of surprising, rustic feel with lots of bands from the sixties and seventies.
Talking about gigs, we were really looking forward to your gig at O2 Islington in April, which, for obvious reasons has been postponed. You’ve been gigging now for three years, what’s been your best gig so far?
Spike: Maybe Chinnerys in Southend?
George: I think it was when me and Spike did an open mic-
Spike: Yeah! I know what you’re going to say, that was hilarious-
George: we weren’t even supposed to play, so we thought alright. We turned up really late, I was in a crop top. Spike was borrowing a guitar and I was borrowing Spike’s sisters 10-year-old hello kitty guitar.
Spike: The strings were so old, so it sounded disgusting. We weren’t allowed to perform early, and so by the time it got to us playing we weren’t as sober as we were earlier.
George: And they told us to be quiet at an open mic? Well anyway, we started playing, both of our guitars were out of tune and it all sounded horrible. I managed to get myself on top of this lovely gentleman’s table and gave him a bit of a show. When I hit the high note they pulled the plug and that was the end of the gig and now we’re barred.
And is that a standard Morrison house gig?
Spike: well, that was a year or so ago, so I think we’re better at playing now, definitely. We tune our guitars first.
Jack: We definitely look more comfortable.
George: yeah, it’s definitely not as much as a gamble coming to see us anymore.
So on that note, I have to mention your very recent name change. We’ve always known you as 'The Tea Heads', why the change in name in the midst of a global pandemic?
Spike: It’s the name of one of the council flats from where we live you see. Now, after the pandemic we will have more time and space to focus on our music and what we want to get out of it. Being known as the Tea Heads, I felt like we were stuck as sixteen year olds in Southend, and we just want to move away from playing for people who just don’t care about us, and I feel like, Morrison house is going more in that direction.
George: we’ve definitely just grown out of it. The Tea Heads comes from burrows classic ‘Junkies’, and he said 'The Tea Heads' who talk so much about fine art and the arts itself but they never actually get around to doing any of it. At the time I couldn’t help but think that that was actually just us. But now it’s a bit childish. I guess it’s more of an insult now.
What can we expect to see from Morrison House in the future?
Jack: As soon as this is over, this horriblenonsense, we’re going to re-record some of the songs you’ve just heard, and a few new ones.
George: Yeah, we just want to try and get the album out there.
Jack: And once we’ve done that, well definitely just start on another album.
Spike: We have enough songs to do it, we just want to keep on gigging as much as we possibly can and get all of our music out there.